Car Theft Prevention Tips

Updated: April 13, 2011

It is an important if not depressing fact that if a professional criminal really wants to steal your car then there is little you can do to stop it. What you can do is to discourage them as much as possible by making your vehicle as awkward, time consuming and downright difficult to steal as possible, putting him off attempting to steal it and at the very least making your car the least attractive proposition and moving him on to an easier target.

There are many things you can do to prevent car theft, and we will start with the common-sense things that will deter opportunistic thieves. These may sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many times cars get stolen because the owner dropped their guard and forgot the basics:


Stop the Opportunist

Always shut the doors and windows and sunroof and lock the car! Yes it sounds silly but if you are leaving the car, even for a second, if you’ve forgotten something and just pop back into the house, or go to the store to pick up something, always make sure the car is secure.

The obvious extension of this is to never leave the car running and always remove the keys from the ignition. As the video on our homepage shows, leaving the car for a few seconds open with the keys in and engine running give the opportunist to drive off in your pride and joy. This sort of crime is especially prevalent at gas stations when stopping for fuel, ATM’s and convenience stores, but can happen anywhere.

When in a car and stopped by a stranger, be wary of anyone asking you to wind your window down or get out of your car, it may be a ruse to steal the keys from you. Increasingly common is a form of carjacking where a criminal will crash into the back of your car at low speed, and when you get out to inspect the damage, jump in your car and drive off in it. If you are the slightest bit suspicious, close all the windows, lock the car and call the police from a mobile phone. wait in the car until the police arrive.

Secure The Keys

With increasing levels of security on new cars, getting hold of the keys may be the only way a thief may be able to steal the car, and breaking into houses to steal car keys is becoming more commonplace. Make sure that the keys are in a hidden location and not on display visible through a window or door.

Do not hide a spare set of keys anywhere on or near the car itself – criminals may either see you hiding the key or look in the common locations people use.

Hide Personal Belongings

Contents theft accounts for a large percentage of all automotive theft crimes, so leaving something on display in the car is just inviting trouble. it takes seconds to smash a car window and take your property. Bags, phones, laptops and portable satellite navigation systems are all popular targets for thieves, so remove any trace of them, including hiding the chargers and wiping the windscreen to remove any sign that there may have been a sat nav unit in the car, criminals have been known to break in under the assumption that the item may be in the glove-box even if it is not directly on display if they see tell-tale signs like circles on the windscreen. Criminals may even break in for items such as coats, gloves or even small change, so lock all belongings securely in the trunk.

Parking Strategy

If you have to park, use a well lit secure car park, preferably one with monitored or barrier entry and exits. If you have to park on the street, find a well lit public area rather than a private alleyway – criminals prefer not to be watched if they can help it so don’t make their lives easier.

When parking at home, if you have a garage, use it! it may save 30 seconds on the daily commute having your car conveniently in the driveway, but it means your car is visible and vulnerable, whereas in a locked garage it goes unnoticed and is doubly secure.

If you have a narrow driveway, park one car behind another with the more vulnerable car shielded by the more secure car.

Towing Theft

To minimise your chances of your car getting towed away by a thief, always leave the car in gear if it has a manual gearbox, or in Park if an automatic. Always put the emergency park/handbrake on. Turn the steering wheel to point the front wheels to the kerb.


Extra Security

If your car does not have an electronic engine immobiliser fitted as standard equipment, then have a recognised professional fit an approved system to your car that disables the ignition, and remember to activate it every time you leave the car. Immobilisers are reviewed in our Security Devices section.

Alongside an electronic immobiliser, a visual and physical deterrent can put off potential thieves, so use a mechanical immobiliser. These can come in several forms, from steering wheel locks to floorboard & pedal locks, gearshift locks, wheel clamps, and armoured collars for steering columns.

An audio alarm can be a third layer of protection. While car alarms are ignored by many nowadays, they will still attract unwanted attention for the would-be-thief who may decide to run for it rather than get noticed.

Marking the car by methods such as etching the VIN(Vehicle Identification Number) number on the windows make the car less attractive to those looking to strip it and sell it for parts.

Tracking systems that monitor the car and report its location to the police can be excellent investments on more expensive cars, and if fitted along with the other devices here might result in lower insurance premiums.

In short the more added layers of protection you can add the less appealing your car will be to criminals.

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